Introduction to M3: Welcome to the Big Leagues!

Posted by Dhara Kinariwala on Jul 11, 2015 12:00:00 PM



So you’ve finally taken Step 1. The biggest of CONGRATULATIONS!! You’ve unflagged all the Step 1 content on Firecracker, put away your First Aid, and allowed your question bank to expire. The worst is over; the fun begins!

It’s time to work with real patients all day, every day! Here are some things you can look forward to now that you’re starting your third year:

  • Keep an eye out for the physicians you want to be like. I recently met an ER attending who palpably reduced the tension level in a room just by walking in the door.  This year, you’ll have the most exposure you’ll ever have to the greatest number and variety of attending and resident physicians.  Analyze their choice of words, their facial expressions and body language when speaking with patients.  Reflect on how they approach challenging patients and concerned family members. Who interacts effectively, and what qualities allow them to do it?

  • You’ll have less time on your own schedule this year.  The other day I found myself in Kroger at 8 a.m. after an overnight ED shift.  My brain was so wired that I couldn’t sleep, so instead I ran errands. Since more of your time is organized for you, amp up your productivity and organization by mastering the 2-minute packed lunch, choosing the speed wash cycle on the laundry machine, and studying flash cards on bus rides to the hospital.

  • Jot down your thoughts regularly.  This year is a great time to start writing down your experiences.  Even if you’re not a writer, just bullet point your thoughts or write a few words down to remember a challenging experience you had, a doctor or patient who inspired you, a situation that made you upset, the time a patient got angry and cursed at you (happened to me recently), and the first time you [insert new experience here]. These reflections will be gold down the road.

  • Your residents are the boss. Residents are generally super-awesome people! Make sure to follow what they tell you to do – they’re just looking out for you.  The middle of primary trauma survey is probably not the best time to ask tons of questions, but they’d be happy to answer your questions afterwards.  If they tell you to go find some more gauze, just do it! If you want to go somewhere, ask them first! The same goes for attending doctors, who are the residents’ bosses.

  • It’s okay not to know the answers to questions when you’re “pimped.” But try to work through questions logically, be interested, and pay attention when you’re given an answer. If there’s time, you can ask follow-up questions. If the same person asks you the same question one week later, you better know it!

  • You often have the most time to spend with your patients.  Many times you’ll be responsible for 2-4 patients in the ICU, and the residents will be responsible for 15.  Be the expert on your patients.  Get to know them. Listen to them and learn all the details of their history!

  • They say third year is the hardest, but I’d say so far that it’s also the best. This year is really when you get in touch with the whole reason you came to medical school. You’re spending time with real patients, who have real problems and want you to help them get better.  It’s up to you to read up on their autoimmune disease and to spend your extra hours looking up best practices in diabetes care. This is the real deal! So good luck, and have a fun time!

    How has 3rd year been so far for you? Any awesome experiences to share? Any words of wisdom for students who will be new 3rd years in the future? Post below!

    Image courtesy of photostock

Topics: Clerkships

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